Category Archives: video game

Game review: Steam World Heist for Steam

I realized moments after starting Steam World Heist that I’d played the games out of order, or sort of out of order. Hand of Gilgamech is an odd entry in the series, as it could be a prequel that comes before the first Steam World Dig, or it could be a sequel taking place long after Heist. In any case, Heist is meant to follow the two Dig games, being a sequel that takes place a hundred or so years after the previous entry.

Before I get into the plot or mechanics, I will drop the early verdict and say that this was the least enjoyable of the games thus far. Like, it’s okay, but not really great or bad. The shift to turn-based strategy combined with the idea of pillaging ships for resources could have been the best pivot away from the resource management of the first two games.

Instead, this entry in the Steamverse also got shackled with resource management for the dumbest of reasons, and with a burden of a required grind with every new character introduced. But if it were just these two factors, I might still be forgiving and regard it as a good game. Instead, Steam World Heist continually makes choices to bury any hope of fun under a pile of terrible ideas. Continue reading

My GTA VI wishlist

Believe it or don’t, but I’m actually ahead of my blogging schedule for once, with a few reviews already queued up and good to go. Finding myself with free time on my hands, I decided to go back to Grand Theft Auto V to finish up the last of the story. Unlike my run on the Xbox, this time I chose to spare Trevor because even if I still don’t like him, the idea of getting rid of Steve Haines and Devin Weston was more appealing after putting up with their crap a second time around.

I’ve actually been playing GTA V a lot on PC, though I’ve frequently restarted without getting very far beyond the second heist. This is because I’m not really playing the game like other folks. I don’t go in for crazy stunts or skillful getaways from higher level police pursuits. I watch folks do that on YouTube, and of course I find it impressive. But mostly, I play to chill out.

I might get in a car and cruise around the highway while listening to the radio. Other times, I like to play golf with Franklin and his golfing buddy, Castro Lagano, or play tennis with Michael against his wife Amanda, or against a random dude at the public courts. (Though I prefer playing random strangers because Amanda was working on her backhand almost as she was on her reverse cowgirl with her tennis instructor. She’s set me up with that cross court backhand so often, I’ve had actual nightmares about it.) Sometimes, I like to steal the faster cars and get on the highway late at night to get a mostly free length of road for a real test run. And sometimes I just go for a walk to take in whatever is happening around my character. Continue reading

Game review: Steam World Dig 2 for Steam

Before getting to the review, I should apologize for being so late in posting. The review was in Word, ready to go on Friday of last week, but I got distracted with Dark Souls II. I realized I’d never used a halberd or any polearms, so I figured I’d just dip in to see how they are. Long story short, I’m just about done with the base game boss fights up to King Vendrick, and now I’m debating doing all the DLCs or just going at Nashandra and her two guards to get that pre-DLC experience. But  let’s forget that and look at this week’s game.

I bought Steam World Dig 2 a little while after its initial release based solely on the fact that I’d loved the first game and wrongly assumed it would be more of the same. At the time, my hands weren’t in great shape, and just the tutorial boss was enough to bounce me right out of the game. But I’ve been doing pretty good health-wise, and I just finished a couple harder games, so I thought I’d give this a try again.

The thing is, I got pretty close to the end of the game before realizing I’d invested in the wrong skills, and I had to start over again. So this review is based on two different impressions of the game, the first where I didn’t know what I needed to do to progress, and the second where I knew and just did the thing like Zhu Li. Continue reading

Revisiting Vampire Survivors post-DLC

If you want to reread my original review of Vampire Survivors or you missed it the first time, click here.

I actually had another review to post this week, but as I managed to get ahead of schedule for once, I decided to get the second DLC for Vampire Survivors, Tides of the Foscari. I’d already bought Legacy of the Moonspell and was left feeling underwhelmed by the experience. It’s less that there’s only one new area to explore, and more that aside from Miang Moonspell, most of the new survivors proved to be difficult to get past their fragile stages. (If you can do it, they get better, really.) On top of that, making unique builds for them felt like a chore. Lastly, given that a third of the new area is mazes, the standard map that works fine for the base game becomes totally useless.

Going into the second DLC, I found a similar maze set up, but then I found a map that actually showed the area properly. I wondered, did they add a map to the other DLC? Yes. Then I thought maybe I was confused and they had always had maps. But no, I checked the patch history, and the game makers added in maps for both new areas. With maps, both stages are vastly improved, leading me to ask, why make me find a map at all? Why not just bake it into the stage and be less obtuse?

Before I go on, I should mention that I have at this point finished one hundred percent of the trophies for this game. Every area, character, DLC character, and secret character has been unlocked. So when I say I’ve thoroughly combed through the whole game, I mean it. Hell, I’ve even taken to doing single weapon challenge runs just to sort out which characters are really OP. (Hint, they’re Pugnala, Queen Sigma, and Cavallo, as well as DLC survivors Miang, Lumaire, and Sammy. Many others are good for a challenge run, but these beasts can be good to go within six minutes of starting a single weapon run.) Continue reading

Game review: Party Hard

It’s probably not going to be much of a surprise that immediately after playing the last game with a near total “kill everyone” mindset, I decided to get a game where the objective is to literally kill everyone. The main difference is, in Party Hard, your character is allowed to be seen by all their potential victims. They’re just more concerned with making the stabby bits stealthy.

I had tried to play the mobile version back when I was sampling Google Play Pass, but it kept throwing up a debug error menu that blocked the entire screen. Despite the PC version also being made in the Unity engine, it doesn’t have the same errors, and it was a whole lot more stable than Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun, another Unity game with far worse performance. While there were a few glitches during my playthrough (more on those later), Party Hard was a mostly smooth gaming experience. Even better, despite its grim premise, it’s a mostly fun, if somewhat difficult game.

What makes one hard game fun for me, while another drove me nuts? I can’t offer a blanket explanation, but I think Party Hard succeeds because of the way every run is slightly randomized. The placement of items, traps, victims, and guards changes each time the killer fails to get the job done, so rather than try to look for a pattern, I just went with the flow and improvised until I found the right plan to “Kill them all!” Continue reading

Game review: Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun

Let’s just get one thing out of the way first: I don’t really care much for stealth games. As a mechanic added to other games, it’s…mostly fine, though still quite badly implemented. Pick any example you like: Fallout, Skyrim, Far Cry, Horizon: Zero Dawn; they’re all the same. You shoot one dude in a camp, and all his buddies jump up to start searching for the killer…for 30 seconds. Then they all say something dumb like “Guess it was just the wind.” Yes, it was just the wind that put an arrow in your buddy’s skull.

Pure stealth takes away all other options and tells players, “No, you do it my way or you’ll die horribly over and over.” But it still falls back on the thirty second search and forget formula, so all it takes to win is buttloads of patience and save scrubbing.

But as I’ve mentioned before, our connection is slow due to technical difficulties and keeping me from the games I want to play and review. I saw Epic Games Store had a summer sale going on, and I figured why not get something out of my comfort zone? It had controller support, and a tactical stealth game certainly seemed like it had potential.

Enter this week’s hit piece, Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun, or as I prefer to call it, Bobble-head Assassins: Scrub Savers of the Shogun. Before I really get into the negativity, I will point out the things I thought were nice. Just know that it’s a real short list of likes before I dive right into a full-on hate rant. Continue reading

Versus series: Diablo Immortal PC VS Phone

This topic completely slipped my mind for several weeks, and I really could have used it last week. But between juggling Path of Exile, two Fallout games, and playing the new Blood Knight class on Diablo Immortal, I’d completely forgotten that I’d been planning to pit the phone version with the perpetually Beta PC version.

This time around the winner is easy to declare, with lots of reasons why I prefer it. But that doesn’t mean I shun the other option. The winner, PC version, has so many benefits going for it that I place it with a comfortable lead over the phone version. But having said that, I still frequently play the phone version, quite often as a diversion for when I’m in the bathroom. (I’m old, so even peeing takes longer now.)

Plus the phone has another good thing going for it: the size of updates to download are much smaller than the PC version. Obviously, all the graphics are down-scaled for the little screen, so if I fire up the game on the can and see it needs an update, odds are good that the game’s download will be done before my download is done, metaphorically speaking. Continue reading

Game review: Diablo Immortal for Android and PC

Once upon a time, back when forums were individually moderated communities instead of corporate hoarded content farms, someone I respected told me not to read a certain book series because it was awful and everything wrong with the publishing industry specifically and in the universe in general. I read the first book and reported that actually, I kind of liked it. “Oh,” they said, “just read the second, and you’ll see why it’s a dumpster fire with extra grease.” So I read that book, and then kinda like grew into love. This ping pong of assurances that I would hate the next books and my rebuttals that they were awesome led me to being a vocal fan of the series, to which another fan base declared that I was everything wrong with the universe in general. The books they stanned for were so much more superior, and besides that, the writer of my books was a homophobe.

(The author of their beloved books later wrote more books that suggested they might be slightly racist, and then publicly came out as a transphobe, leading some of said fan base to write very long articles about whether it was okay to separate art from artist. Which, if I were pushed on that subject, I think it’s okay for anyone to decide that. I just find it funny that I was expected not to make that distinction for the thing I loved, but now they need me and everyone else to understand that they like the art, not the asshole behind it. Aaaaand I digress.)

This leads me to the HUGE wall of hate surrounding Diablo Immortal, a game subcontracted from Blizzard to NetEase Games, but which bears a striking resemblance to the newly released Diablo IV in terms of how the always online features and battle pass work. The hate for this game stems from many flaws, both within the game itself, and with the parent company that’s been revealed as Not A Very Nice Place To Work, all of which is valid criticism. So even though I knew there was a PC version, I said, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, so I’m gonna stick with the lynch mob on this one and avoid that game like the plague.”

Continue reading

Game review: Grindstone for EGS

There wasn’t a review or any post last week because I had so much to talk about, and in all cases, I just wanted a little more time with each…thing before passing a verdict. So in my infinite wisdom, I chose instead to start playing another game that I figured I could get through in a few days.

Ah hahahahahahaha. Ha…ahem.

So, one week later, let’s talk about Grindstone, which I bought from the Epic Game Store. It is to date only the second game I’ve bought rather than just being a free game of the week, so that should say how much I was looking forward to playing this. First of all, it’s a puzzle game, and my love for those goes all the way back to Tetris on my first Game Boy. Second, it has a cartoony presentation that’s one part adorable mixed with two parts gory. As a fan of horror and cartoons, that sounds like a perfect cocktail for me.

It didn’t take long playing it before I started muttering, “This had to be a mobile game first,” and I did some digging to confirm that yes, this was originally part of the Apple Arcade offerings before moving to PC. I will circle back to everything that made me think that, but first I want to take more about the overall gameplay, the story, and the usual stuff that a review should dig into before hitting on the feely bits. Continue reading

Game review: Into the Pit for Steam

You ever have a guest who overstays their welcome? They finished the wine and drank all your bourbon as well. Now they’re looking like they might go through the kitchen cabinets to find something else to amuse themselves with, and you just want to say “Well you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”

That’s what Into the Pit feels like. It’s an absolutely gorgeous game with great music, art style and gameplay that should have been a 5 star contender. From the moment it opens with a short cutscene establishing the main character’s quest to find their missing cousin, the bold use of bright colors mixed with pixelated shadows make an impressive impact. In short order, the game guides said character to the eponymous pit to rescue not only their hell-bound cousin, but also all of the villagers who followed the town’s alderman on a false promise of finding riches beyond their wildest dreams.

Diving into the pit itself, the player is given weapons, a pair of magic “guns” bound to their right and left hands, as well as a talent that might be something like a chance to regain health after dispatching demons or being coated in poison so that enemy melee attacks will harm them in turn. From the center hub of each floor, there are four  areas that must be cleared to unlock another level down, leading eventually to the fifth floor where a boss fight is waiting. The dungeons are labeled, so you know what kind of rune is available to harvest, or whether there’s an imprisoned villager to rescue, or just a pool of health to recover a bit from the tougher rooms. To escape each room, a set number of mystic keys must be destroyed. Lots of early rooms will only have one or two, but deeper floors in the pit can go as high as four keys. (Oh, and lots of keys have a hidden ambush mechanic, teleporting in a large number of enemies as a form of defense. As a rule of thumb, if an area looks clear, it’s probably an ambush ready to punish player overconfidence.) Continue reading